Fellowship: Menapace Fellowship in Urban Land Use Law, Municipal Art Society, New York City (Deadline 1/31/2020)

The Ralph C. Menapace Fellowship in Urban Land Use Law

Applications Due: January 31, 2020

New York City has been both the laboratory and battleground for innovations in land use regulation, including urban environmental controls, zoning, open space, and historic preservation. Legislation drafted or refined through litigation in New York has provided the model for land use laws throughout the country.

The Ralph C. Menapace Fellowship, sponsored by the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS), gives recent law school graduates an opportunity to acquire first-hand experience in the legislative process, litigation, and advocacy before New York’s regulatory bodies. It provides the intensive learning experience of a judicial clerkship with a greater opportunity for independent, creative work in finding solutions to new and persistent problems in urban life.


The Menapace Fellow will be involved in litigation, legislative work, and the preparation and delivery of testimony in proceedings before state and federal administrative bodies, as well as the City Planning Commission (CPC), Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), Board of Standards & Appeals (BSA), and the City Council. The Fellow will also serve as in-house counsel, assisting in corporate and non-profit law matters for MAS.

The Fellow’s term, to commence in September 2020, will run for a mandatory two-year period. The Fellowship is a salaried position, commensurate with a judicial clerkship, and offers standard MAS benefits. The Fellow will work under the supervision of the Vice President for Policy and Programs in the MAS office at 488 Madison Avenue in Manhattan. Interested candidates should email a cover letter indicating the basis of their interest, resume, legal writing sample (no longer than ten pages), and transcript by January 31, 2020 to jobs@mas.org. Interviews will be conducted the week of March 23, 2020.


The Menapace Fellow will receive further guidance from MAS’s General Counsel and Law Committee, which comprises distinguished attorneys with expertise in land use and zoning, real estate, non-profit, environmental, and municipal law fields. The current Law Committee is chaired by Earl Weiner, General Counsel, MAS and Senior Counsel, Sullivan & Cromwell, LLP. Committee members include Frank Chaney, Of Counsel, Rosenberg & Estis, P.C.; Katrina Kuh, Professor of Law, Pace Law School; Kimberly Ong*, Senior Attorney, National Resources Defense Council; Robert Pigott, Vice President and General Counsel, Phipps Houses; Paul Proulx, Partner, Carter, Ledyard & Milburn LLP; David Schnakenberg*, Of Counsel, GoldmanHarris LLC. The Law Committee meets six times per year, during which the Menapace Fellow provides substantive updates, and strategy for legal advocacy is discussed.

* Former Menapace Fellow


MAS is a civic organization that works to educate and inspire New Yorkers to engage in the betterment of our city. As a non-profit advocacy organization, MAS mobilizes diverse allies to focus on issues that affect our city from sidewalk to skyline. MAS protects New York’s legacy spaces, encourages thoughtful planning and urban design, and fosters complete neighborhoods across the five boroughs devoted to improving the physical environment of New York City.

Founded in 1893, our advocacy efforts have led to the creation of the nation’s first zoning ordinance, early air and noise quality controls, the first billboard legislation, New York’s first tree-planting program, and the establishment of New York City’s Planning Commission, Public Design Commission, and Landmarks Preservation Commission. MAS played a central role in the legal action that saved Grand Central Terminal and the resulting United States Supreme Court decision affirming New York City’s Landmarks Law. MAS also was a key player in the successful court battles over Saint Bartholomew’s Church and Columbus Circle – the latter would have resulted in the largest building ever built in midtown Manhattan at the time.

Recent MAS advocacy efforts have focused on closing zoning loopholes which allow for excessive out-of-context development, exposing shortcomings in the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) process, and protecting access to sunlight in the public realm.


The 2020-2022 Menapace Fellow will be engaged in policy development and legal advocacy for current urban land use issues confronting New York City, assisting with ongoing litigation concerning gerrymandered zoning lots, parkland alienation, and Large-Scale Developments.

Since October 2018, MAS has been involved in sequential Article 78 proceedings challenging the illegal, gerrymandered zoning lot at 200 Amsterdam Avenue, upon which a 55-story tower is being constructed. MAS secured a major legal victory in early 2019 when the New York County Supreme Court determined that the BSA acted unreasonably in affirming the Department of Buildings’ decision to issue building permits for the gerrymandered zoning lot. The Menapace Fellow has worked alongside a team of attorneys to bring this lawsuit, assisting with sophisticated legal research and writing, and actively participating in the Article 78 proceeding. Unfortunately, the BSA recently reaffirmed their previous decision upon the Court’s remand, hence a second Article 78 proceeding was filed by MAS in July 2019 to challenge the subsequent BSA resolution.

Additionally, MAS is currently a Petitioner in a lawsuit involving Marx Brothers Playground, a public park and jointly operated playground (JOP) which was alienated on behalf of a private developer who is seeking to build a 700-ft residential tower in one of the most park-starved neighborhoods of the city. While the New York County Supreme Court correctly determined that Marx Brothers Playground and the other 267 JOPs in New York City are parks protected by the New York State Public Trust Doctrine, MAS and its partners are currently appealing this decision which failed to recognize the City’s violations of the SEQRA and CEQR processes. The Menapace Fellow is working with outside counsel to research and draft the appellate brief; the 2020-2022 Fellow will likely have the opportunity to similarly engage in appellate advocacy.

MAS also served as Amicus Curiae in a recent lawsuit brought by the City Council and the Manhattan Borough President to challenge the City Planning Commission’s approval of a proposed mega-development project in the Two Bridges neighborhood of Manhattan without Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) review. The Court’s August 2019 decision marked another victory for MAS: the project has been enjoined until ULURP is completed.


The Fellowship is named in honor of Ralph C. Menapace, Jr., a distinguished lawyer, active civic leader, and MAS President and General Counsel who died in 1984. Mr. Menapace, a graduate of Yale Law School and a partner in the firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel, championed the preservation of landmarks, the protection and enhancement of parks, and the creation of more sensitive zoning tools to guide new development. He was an invaluable resource for community groups, government agencies, and civic organizations.

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